Thursday, 4 October 2012

Day 88: Tapachula, Mexico to somewhere in Guatemala

Evening boys and girls

Well. We're in Guatemala. What else is there to say!

We had an eventful night steaming among several tonnes of drying clothes and motorbike gear. Our rooms smelled distinctly fragrant by morning time. Well, that's one word for it I guess.

Our tasks today were to find the vehicle customs so we could cancel the temporary importation certificates and have the $USD400 refunded from our bond. Then to cross out of Mexico. Then to enter into Guatemala. Pretty straightforward, wouldn't you think.

First we had to get out of Tapachula. It was a different day.

Nonetheless it was a difficult exit with lots of streets blocked off for repairs or still flooded from yesterday's downpour.

Finally we got out onto the motorway and off to Viva Mexico where we understood the special customs office to be. The turnoff was our first to Guatemala.

What we didn't realise was that the office we wanted was just past this sign and we turned left. We then mucked around for ages trying to find the office. Everyone we asked directed us to the border, of course not appreciating that it was the specific vehicle office that we needed. Finally we met a wonderful man who spoke excellent English and told us what we needed to do.

And of course, what we needed to do was to go all the way back to the turnoff. If the road had been in good condition, it would have been ok. But it was not. Huge potholes and long sections of very slushy gravel. After all we had had some rain the night before!

Eventually we found the correct place. Shirl took a few photos before a man with a gun told her that she was not allowed to.

In the end it was quite straightforward. The official took our papers, photographed the VINs and bang went the stamp on our papers. All we now if the refund please. Pretty please and thank you very muchly.

So back we went almost the whole way to the border crossing at Talisman. We had our passports stamped and tourist cards cancelled and then it was into Guatemala. By this time it was up to about 33C and that is hot. It was humid too. Firstly we were ambushed by the money changers. They offered us 2.5 quetzals to 19 Mexican pesos. Which we took. Silly us. By now we were surrounded by touts. There were two who had some kind of accreditation as immigration "consultants" and they followed us through the passport entry process and then the bike entry process. We got our entry stamps easy peasy but getting the bikes sorted was much more complicated. Copies of passport, driver's license, certificate of title and, amazingly, a photocopy of the Guatemalan stamp that we had just received in our passport.Then a police check, a blue sticker attached to the windscreen and we were set to go.

The touts (sorry, consultants) cost us about $NZD17 but in the end it was probably worth it. There were so many fish hooks that they resolved for us, including taking all the details of the bikes.

Meanwhile there was a swarming horde of little boys who wanted to "watch the motos" and, oh, while we're at it, why don't we polish your boots.

Finally we got away and off down a reasonable road despite the Guatemalan version of tope! We stopped along the way for lunch and Shirl got up close and personal with the chefs

while Diana got up close and personal with her son.

We found Highway 13 which we thought would take us to Tecan
Uman. Which it did. But then we couldn't find our way out again, until a nice gentleman on a scooter took pity on us and showed us the way out of town.

At this point I think we realised that the road out of town which we thought we wanted wasn't a road after all and we wound up going the way we had come. Plan B kicked into action and we headed of down the road that would take us to Guatemala City

Then at about 2.30pm we went past this rather nice looking hotel. Will we? Won't we? Will we? Won't we? Yes bugger it, we will. It has nice rooms, parking outside, wifi and a swimming pool. What more could you ask for.

So we had a swim and a shower and I replaced the blown headlight bulb on Ebony. I also went round with some told and checked the tightness of some bolts. We also used her as a clothes line.

At about that point the black clouds turned into a thunderstorm and we had another amazing display of lightning, thunder and heavy rain. Only this time, we were inside! Thank goodness for that.

So that's us for the day. A stressful day but ok in the end. And it's still raining! We'll be up at 5am in the morning to try and make up some ground we lost today. We still have to make the SteelRat by 11 October. Tomorrow, El Salvador. We hope.

Today's run: 160kms - just a guess really.
Cumulative: 23, 780kms
Tip overs: 3

Location:Somewhere in Guatemala

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